MATTESON, Ill. (BP) – “I need some exciting music.”
Jackie Hill Perry paused on stage to ask the keyboardist playing softly behind her for a new tune to accompany her message on David and Goliath.
“I need some exciting music,” she said, “because we’re talking about God fighting.” This particular fight was on behalf of His people the Israelites against their enemies the Philistines. “David has a weapon that Goliath doesn’t have and it’s a name,” Perry told 1,100 women gathered for the Chicagoland stop of her “Glory” tour with Lifeway Women. That name is the Lord of Hosts, a God willing to fight cosmic and earthly battles on behalf of His people.
God’s character hasn’t changed since then, Perry said. Even better, His promises are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
The gathering was the second in a multi-city series of “Glory” events scheduled through 2023. “Glory,” featuring teaching by Perry and worship led by Jordan Welch, launched last year as a space to focus on God’s nature as seen in the Scriptures. It is, Perry said in her opening message, “a conference about God and not you.”
In Chicagoland, the bestselling author of “Gay Girl, Good God” and “Holier Than Thou” taught from two familiar stories in the Old Testament – Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son Isaac and young David’s battle with mighty Goliath. She also engaged audience questions in a wide-ranging Q&A session.
Throughout the two-day conference, Aug. 19-20, Perry drove home the main point of every “Glory” event: we will know God when we know His word, and the aim of every passage of Scripture is Jesus.
Women who know the Word
“Hey saints. And a scattering of aints.”
Perry met the crowd gathered for Saturday morning’s Q&A with her trademark greeting from “Thirty Minutes with the Perrys,” her popular podcast with her husband, Preston. Her “saints and aints” approach to speaking truth graciously was on display during a one-hour session in which she candidly answered questions about the Bible, choosing a seminary, dating, parenting, social justice and more.
“How do you learn to study the Bible?” asked one audience member.
“Prayer is a non-negotiable,” Perry answered. Positioning yourself as a humble reader of Scripture is a game changer, she said. “We want to be women who know the Word so we can know God.”
Another attender asked, “When your fire for Jesus has dwindled, how do you ignite the flame again?”
“You won’t always be on the top of the mountain, but more than likely, you will be in the valley most days,” Perry said. Acknowledge it’s unrealistic to expect to always feel on fire for God, she said, but also interrogate your life. Are you bearing fruit? Perry also suggested practical steps: go to church, be in a community of saints that can stir up your faith, read your Bible and have a strategy about it.
“Maturity is when you know that God loves you and that you love God even when it doesn’t feel like it’s true,” she said.
Britni Crider drove three hours to attend the “Glory” event in Chicagoland. “I’m a little new in my faith, and I’m hearing all of this for the first time,” said the 23-year-old from Indianapolis. “What stuck out with me the most is her talking about idols.” Perry’s teaching encouraged her to fully submit to God and trust Him with the idols lingering in her life, Crider said.
“I definitely needed to hear this message.”
The aim is Jesus
In developing the “Glory” events, Perry wanted to create a space where women could learn to read the Bible correctly, seeing Jesus as the aim of every passage. Christ-centered interpretation of the Bible honors Jesus’ own preaching about Scripture and Himself, she said. It also guards against reading the Bible as a way to achieve holiness apart from Christ.
Perry’s focus on seeing Jesus in the Scriptures, even Old Testament stories, resonated with Patricia Ells from Plainfield, Ind.
“When we try to look at the Bible intellectually as a moral code, then it becomes exhausting,” Ells said, “versus when we know and meet and live for the person of Jesus, it’s actually freeing and beautiful. And we have the ability to live with power that isn’t available when we look at Scripture as an academic pursuit, or as a moral pursuit to make me a better person.”
As she wrapped up her message on David and Goliath, Perry’s request for more exciting music was met with immediate response from the keyboardist. A brighter, louder melody began to build in the sanctuary as she connected the David and Goliath account to Jesus, God’s deliverance of His people against their enemies then to Christ’s deliverance of His people over sin and death forever.
“It may seem like all you have is a slingshot, but in reality, you have a name. The Lord of Hosts is with you,” Perry said.
“The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus has set us free. And if this battle is truly the Lord’s, let’s live like it.”
For upcoming “Glory” dates and locations, go to lifeway.com/glory.